The five day countdown is on until publication of my fourth novel, The Fairy Lights. It’s available for pre-order until the 10th November and will be listed on Kindle Unlimited where it will be free to read, if you have a subscription. With that in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to share my countdown to publication checklist in the months before each of my books is published. If you aren’t a writer, or even if you are and your morbid curiosity is piqued, you might be interested in my behind-the-scenes preparation. Since I haven’t posted about this topic before, even though I do it with all of my novels, I thought I’d share my process with you. Curious? Read on…

Four months before publication: cover design

I use Canva Pro to design my own professional book covers using advice from freelance graphic designer connections I have about suggested layout and colour changes.

Three months before publication: editor

I print my final draft in paperback format using Lulu Publishing. My editor checks the final draft of my novels for story continuity errors and anything else that might be unclear at this stage and goes through the book thoroughly using red pen. I then go through the edits and incorporate any changes needed in the manuscript.

Two months before publication: proof reader

I print another paperback draft using Lulu. My freelance proofreader goes through this three times marking all grammatical errors, formatting issues and typos, or suggested changes. I then go through the edits and incorporate any further changes in the manuscript.

Six weeks before publication: beta readers

After listing the Kindle ebook for pre-order and adding the paperback to Amazon as a working draft (note to writers, save this as a draft until you wish to publish it as KDP don’t allow pre-orders on paperbacks), I then print 2 proof copies for my beta readers, who give me an opinion on what they thought about the story. This helps my marketing decisions: category and keyword targeting. At this stage I also use Draft2Digital to convert my Word doc file into an epub or mobi file.

One month before publication

I begin uploading my Word doc manuscript to the Ingramspark book builder tool to begin designing the hardcover version. I send out printed proof copies or epub/mobi files to my small team of ARC readers and professional book bloggers.

Two weeks before publication

I register my ISBNs on the Nielsen Title Editor (Nielsen Book database for the UK – I believe the equivalent in the US is Bowker). Note to self-published authors using KDP direct – you won’t need to do this if you have used one of Amazon’s free ISBNs as they own the distribution rights; you only register on Nielsen if, like me, you are your own publisher and sole trader.

One week before publication

I begin to book advertising slots on Bargain Booksy and the Fussy Librarian to list my ebook for promotion after the publication date.

Publication Day

I email my ARC readers with a gentle reminder that my book is now published and that I look forward to their honest reviews. I also start a sponsored ad campaign on Amazon for my latest book and list the details on Bookroar, where readers can buy and review a copy in a credit system.

What next?

Hope the checklist of advice above is helpful to you. For me, the process is very much one of trial and error, but I generally find that the steps above are a reliable process for me that streamlines my publishing process, taking away much of the last minute stress. If you are an author and do anything differently, feel free to let me know what works for you, if you’re happy to share.

About Leilanie Stewart

Leilanie Stewart is an author and poet from Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her writing centres around protagonists who are on a journey of self-discovery and who explore their identity by overcoming adversity. She began writing for publication while working as an English teacher in Japan, a career pathway that has influenced themes in her writing. Her former career as an Archaeologist has also inspired her writing and she has incorporated elements of archaeology and mythology into both her fiction and poetry. In addition to promoting her own work, Leilanie runs Bindweed Magazine, a creative writing ezine, with her writer husband, Joseph Robert. Aside from literary pursuits, Leilanie enjoys spending time with her husband and their lively literary tot, a voracious reader of construction vehicle books. CONNECT WITH ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA: https://mailchi.mp/17e6ca162ff3/leilanie-stewart-author

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